Inflammation is a crucial process in our body which supports the white blood cells and keeps the immune system working properly. Then why is there a need to fight it? This need arises when the process goes out of control and generates an inflammatory response even when there are no foreign substances to fight, thereby causing damage to the body’s own tissues. To avoid this situation, you would probably have to live in a bubble – away from saturated fats, sugar, environmental toxins and stress. Since that is not possible, you can add antioxidants and anti-inflammatory items in your diet to balance it all out.
- Turmeric: If there was a spice to be named as the all-rounder, it would undoubtedly be turmeric. For centuries, it has been used in Indian and Chinese medicines as well as cuisines, owing to its strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer properties. The spice contains a substance called ‘curcumin’ along with several other anti-inflammatory compounds that make it so beneficial.
- Ginger: It is due to the presence of gingerols, shogaol, and paradol, which prevent the growth of free radicals like peroxynitrite that this spice proves to be highly effective in treating inflammation. Ginger is also good for alleviating pains and offering relief from sore throats and aching muscles.
- Cloves: This spice, highly rich in antioxidants, is good for controlling the production of free radicals in the body. Its main element, eugenol, blocks the inflammation-causing COX-2 enzyme. Cloves also contain flavonoids kaempferol and rhamnetin that prevent excessive oxidization.
- Rosemary: This herb does not only enhance the flavor in your dishes but also keeps a check on potential free radicals, such as superoxide and inhibits synthesis of prostaglandins that cause inflammation. Rosemary can be added to oil at the time of cooking to prevent it from oxidizing.
- Cayenne Pepper: Used by Indian, Chinese and Native American healers for thousands of years, Cayenne Pepper is known for its pungent flavor as well as medicinal properties. While most of its healing powers are attributed to capsaicin chemical compound, it also contains many flavonoids and carotenoids that work as antioxidants against free radicals to fight off inflammation.
- Cinnamon: We all know this spice for its ability to lower blood sugar levels, but cinnamon has more to offer. It contains a host of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances that protect against heart diseases and inflammatory disorders. It prevents the growth of NF-kappaB proteins that work in favor of inflammatory genes and restricts clumping of blood platelets.
- Sage: The flavorsome leaves of sage are rich in carnosic acid and carnosol – the two anti-inflammatory substances which are responsible for its aroma as well as medicinal properties. These molecules offer protection against neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s that stem from aggravated inflammatory responses. This herb also has antioxidant and anticancer elements.
- Thyme: A herb widely used for garnishing foods, thyme is a treasure full of medicinal elements – bioflavonoids and volatile oils like thymol. Thyme acquires its antioxidant properties from thymol, which also makes this herb a powerful antiseptic and antibacterial agent.
People commonly know fruits and vegetables to be the best antioxidants; however, the truth is that herbs and spices, such as the aforementioned ones, have higher concentrations of these free radical scavengers. So if you want to protect yourselves against inflammation or fight off an existing condition, add these spices to your meal and have a flavorsome treatment against your diseases.